Causes of Kidney Stones in Dogs

Kidney stones in dogs can lead to serious health problems if left untreated, not to mention that it is a very painful disease, especially when the stones migrate down the urinary tract. The condition can even be lethal if the stones cause a blockage. The causes of kidney stones are numerous. While some breeds have a hereditary predisposition to forming kidney stones, in other cases they are caused by dietary factors or other concurrent diseases, such as a kidney or urinary tract infection. Dogs are more likely to form kidney stones with age, and the incidence of stones is higher in females than in males.

Kidney Stone Formation

Kidney stones appear due to the inability of the kidneys to dissolve and eliminate the waste minerals filtered from the blood. This may be due to either the amount of minerals in the diet or to the kidney's inability to function properly. The stones consist of deposits of minerals which form in the kidney, mainly because there is an excess of those minerals in the blood. These minerals can form soluble crystals which, in turn, can interact and form stones. 

Causes of Kidney Stones in Dogs

Most common causes of kidney stones in dogs consist of:

  • Negligence regarding the diet
  • Primary infection of the urinary tract
  • Urine retention
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Old age
  • Drug administration
  • Other concurrent diseases

There are some dog breeds in which kidney stones occur more often, due to a genetic predisposition: dalmatians, English bulldogs and small breeds like the miniature schnauzer, the Yorkshire terrier, poodle, Bichon Frise and cocker spaniel. In these dog breeds, the kidney stones are due to the fact that the dogs cannot produce enough nephrocalcin, the substance which usually dissolves calcium deposits. Older castrated dogs and obese dogs are believed to be more susceptible to forming kidney stones.

Types of Kidney Stones in Dogs

Urinary tract infections usually cause struvite stones. These stones contain magnesium, ammonium and phosphate and are most common in females. Calcium oxalate stones usually occur in dogs that don't produce sufficient amounts of nephroclin. These stones are made up of calcium deposits.

Prevention of Kidney Stones in Dogs

The prevention of kidney stones is highly important. It is best to take all necessary precautions and protect your dog from forming kidney stones. Give your dog the possibility to urinate often, at least every 6 hours, and make sure he always has fresh water to drink. Ascorbic acid is considered good for acidifying urine and strengthening the entire immune system. Home remedies such as cranberry juice can destroy some types of bacteria that typically cause urinary infections in the bladder. There are some hereditary causes which you cannot fight, but you should do your best in preventing the formation or the recurrence of kidney stones.